Paleo diet devotees will talk about the caveman diet to anyone who will listen, heralding its purported health benefits and life-changing attributes.
You can’t blame them: The paleo diet does have a number of potential health benefits, including weight loss, heart health, blood sugar control, improved cholesterol levels, and reduced markers of chronic disease. Because it’s void of processed food, the paleo diet may even improve your mood and energy levels.
The big problem?
Following the paleo diet is hard! Unless you have a way to make it easy, that is… Enter: Instant Pot.
In this paleo guide to Instant Pots, InstaPot Life covers the basics of the paleo diet, downfalls that keep people from finding success on paleo, how the Instant Pot can be the solution to those downfalls, and our top tips for meal prepping with an Instant Pot.
Oh, and there are more than 30 paleo Instant Pot recipes at the end of this guide from some of our favorite paleo bloggers.
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Paleo Diet Basics
To eat a paleo diet means to eat like cavemen did — or, at the very least, to eat in a modernistic way that’s reminiscent of the paleolithic era. The Paleo diet goes by a handful of names, including the caveman diet, the Stone Age diet, the Paleolithic diet, the neanderthal diet, and the hunter-gatherer diet.
Despite the varying nomenclature, the premise behind the paleo diet remains the same: Eat in a way that humans (or human ancestors) ate before they had easy access to food. This means primarily eating food you could catch, kill, gather, and cook on your own — there was no relying on an established farm-to-store-to-table system like we have today.
Depending on who you ask, the paleo diet also has varying levels of strictness. Some paleo evangelists restrict their diets to only meat, nuts and seeds, and vegetables, while other paleo dieters eat grains, legumes, and some dairy products, like clarified butter, or ghee.
In general, here’s what you can expect to eat a lot of on the paleo diet:
- Red meat, poultry, and fish
- Vegetables, both starchy and non-starchy
- Fruits, starchy and non-starchy
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy oils, such as olive oil
- Other healthy fats, such as avocados and olives
Here’s what you might eat a little bit of, depending on how strict you are with the paleo diet:
- Whole and ancient grains, including quinoa, amaranth, barley, and oats
- Some high-quality dairy, such as ghee or grass-fed butter
- Legumes, lentils, and beans
Finally, here’s what you won’t eat on the paleo diet:
- Refined carbs or grains of any source
- Added sugars, in any form
- Hydrogenated oils and trans fats
- Artificial sweeteners
- Low-fat or fat-free food products
- Dairy products like yogurt and cheese
- Generally anything that comes in a box or bag
Paleo Diet Downfalls
As you can see, you might need to make some major changes to your current diet in order to truly follow a paleo diet.
Some common downfalls that people experience when trying to go paleo include:
- Getting bored with their meals and snacks
- Feeling overly restricted
- Finding themselves hungry with no paleo food available
- Falling victim to social settings where others are not eating paleo foods (e.g., holiday celebrations)
- Not enough time to meal prep
- Not organized enough to meal prep
- Don’t like to eat leftovers
If you eat a lot of processed foods, the switch can be tough at first, but it’s definitely doable if you commit, plan, and prepare.
Paleo is Easy-Peasy With Instant Pot
If you have an Instant Pot, you can easily avoid all of the above scenarios. Let’s take a look at how some common paleo diet pitfalls can be solved with an Instant Pot.
Situation: Bored with meals and snacks
Solution: Get creative with your Instant Pot to create delectable meals, sweet and savory snacks, and desserts you love that are still healthy (see Paleo Instant Pot Recipes section at the end of this guide)
Situation: Feeling overly restricted
Solution: Again, get creative with your Instant Pot! Your Instant Pot is a vessel at your fingertips for creating nutritious paleo meals that don’t leave you craving junky processed food.
Situation: Hungry with no paleo food available
Solution: Meal prep! Instant Pot makes meal prepping easy. If you take the time to look at your schedule and anticipate hunger, you can prep meals and eat them in a manner that keeps you satisfied when there’s no access to paleo food later. (More on meal prep below).
Situation: Non-paleo foods at social gatherings
Solution: Make it a potluck! Suggest that everyone bring a dish or dessert and make yours paleo. You don’t even have to tell anyone that it’s one of those “healthy desserts” — they’ll never know that something as delish as this Instant Pot fudgy chocolate cake is paleo.
Situation: No time to meal prep
Solution: It literally takes minutes to make things in an Instant Pot. There are no excuses when you can pop everything in the Instant Pot, walk away for 30 minutes or less, and come back to a fully cooked meal!
Situation: Not organized enough to meal prep
Solution: Use our recipe database. Below, you’ll find nearly 40 paleo Instant Pot recipes that are so good you’ll want to make them over and over again. Every recipe on the list can be modified to match a new flavor profile, too, so the options are truly endless.
A tip for those who feel unorganized: Pick your recipe (or two or three) for the week, check your kitchen for ingredients you already have, and write a shopping list for those you don’t have. Then, when it’s time to meal prep, you won’t find yourself running to the store for a stray ingredient.
Situation: Don’t like eating leftovers
Solution: Make only what you’ll eat! Of course, you can totally batch cook with your Instant Pot, but no one says you have to. Because Instant Pots cook food so quickly, you can easily make several different meals within a few hours (just be sure to clean your Instant Pot between meals).
For example, if you want to have chicken on Monday and Tuesday, beef on Wednesday and Thursday, and pork on Friday and Saturday, simply budget an hour of time for each meal. That’s still only three total hours of meal prep — far less than it would take to traditionally cook three different meals. And, if you’re time-savvy, you can use the actual cooking times to get other tasks done.
Paleo Meal Prep With Instant Pot
Meal prepping is the key to success with the paleo diet. As mentioned above, the biggest downfall for most people is that they find themselves battling hunger pangs in a place where there are no paleo-friendly meals or snacks to be found. Thus, there’s a lapse in the diet.
That’s okay if it only happens every so often, but if it occurs too often, well, you aren’t really following a paleo diet anymore. Luckily, meal prep is an easy answer — and a practice that continually gets easier the more you do it.
Top Tips for Successful Paleo Meal Prep with an Instant Pot
With the right tools and tactics — and the right frame of mind — meal-prepping for the paleo diet is easy-breezy. Here are our top five tops for paleo meal prep success.
1. Buy yourself portion-sized meal prep containers you love.
This might sound silly, but it works! It’s the same reason that buying a reusable water bottle you love can encourage you to drink more water. If you’re in this paleo thing for the long-haul, you may as well eat out of containers you adore.
2. Also buy freezer-sized containers.
You’ll need these for batch cooking; more on that later.
3. Start small.
Instead of trying to advance-prepare a paleo breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and cut up fruits and veggies for snacks), start with the meal you tend to have the most trouble with. For instance, if you tend to order takeout for dinner because you’re just so dang tired after work, prioritize meal prep for your dinners. This way you’ll have a hearty supper waiting for you when you get home from work. You can add breakfast and lunch to your meal prep routine later, once you get the hang of things and find your groove.
4. Batch cook.
If you prepare a dinner you love and know you’ll eat often, make more than a week’s worth. Make two or three weeks’ worth and put the extras in your freezer for a week when you don’t have time to prep.
5. Don’t overcomplicate things.
The essence of the paleo diet is simplicity. Our prehistoric ancestors were forced to eat simple meals of meat, fruit and vegetables. Apply the same principle to your meal prep and stare in awe as you finish prepping, cooking and portioning in an hour or less (thanks to your handy-dandy Instant Pot).
Paleo Instant Pot Recipes
Before starting the paleo diet, you might think you’re limited to boring meals of greens and poultry. Quite the opposite is true: The paleo diet allows for a ton of flexibility for palate preferences, allergies, and sensitivities, especially if you have the right tools in your arsenal (i.e., an Instant Pot).
With an Instant Pot, you can create paleo recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert that you’ll crave over and over again. Here are some of our favorites, courtesy of great Paleo bloggers around the Internet.
Paleo Instant Pot Recipes for Breakfast
- Instant Pot Crispy Potatoes by Nom Nom Paleo
- Instant Pot Breakfast Casserole by Once a Month Meals
- Instant Pot Soft Boiled Eggs by All The Nourishing Things
- Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs by Cook Eat Paleo
- Soft and Pillowy Instant Pot Cinnamon Rolls by Paleo Hacks
- Instant Pot Crustless Quiche by Tessa the Domestic Diva
- Instant Pot Coconut Yogurt by The Primal Desire
- Instant Pot Paleo Breakfast Porridge by Thriving on Paleo
- Instant Pot Creamy Pumpkin Maple Oats by Meaningful Eats
- Instant Pot Bacon Broccoli Frittata by Delicious Obsessions
Paleo Instant Pot Recipes for Lunch and Dinner
- Instant Pot Chicken Pho by Nom Nom Paleo
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos by The Real Food Dietitians
- Instant Pot Beef Sirloin Tips by Gluten-Free Palate
- Instant Pot Pork Chops by Cook the Story
- Instant Pot Carnitas by Gnom Gnom
- Instant Pot Butter Chicken by I Heart Umami
- Instant Pot Jamaican Jerk Pork by I Breathe I’m Hungry
- Instant Pot Mexi-Meatloaf by Predominantly Paleo
- Instant Pot Stuffed Cabbage Rolls by Tasty Thin
- Instant Pot Pot Roast by Noshtastic
- Instant Pot Takeout Chicken and Broccoli by Lexi’s CLean Kitchen
- Instant Pot Lamb Ragu by Primal Gourmet
- Instant Pot Seafood Gumbo by the Movement Menu
- Instant Pot Lime Teriyaki Chicken by Wholesomelicious
Paleo Instant Pot Recipes for Dessert
- Instant Pot Paleo Pumpkin Pie by All The Nourishing Things
- Instant Pot Paleo or Vegan Flourless Brownies by Go Dairy Free
- Instant Pot Paleo Chocolate Cake by Thriving on Paleo
- Instant Pot Paleo Chocolate Chip Banana Bread by Recipes to Nourish
- Instant Pot Fresh Berry Compote by This Old Gal
- Instant Pot Paleo Lemon Cake by My Heart Beets
- Instant Pot Apple and Lavender Upside-Down Cake by A Squirrel In The Kitchen
- Instant Pot Chocolate Pots de Crème by Back Porch Paleo
- Instant Pot Bread Pudding by Eat Beautiful